“Doctrine and Covenants 22,” Joseph Smith’s Revelations: A Doctrine and Covenants Study Companion from the Joseph Smith Papers (2020)
“Doctrine and Covenants 22,” Joseph Smith’s Revelations: A Doctrine and Covenants Study Companion from the Joseph Smith Papers
Revelation, [Fayette Township, Seneca Co., NY, 16 Apr. 1830]. Featured version part of “The Mormon Creed,” in Painesville (OH) Telegraph, 19 Apr. 1831, vol. 2, no. 44 (second series), p. . The microfilm copy of the text transcribed herein was filmed by the Microfilm Corporation of Cleveland, OH, 1947, copy at CHL.
JS dictated this revelation shortly after the formal organization of the church on 6 April 1830. While the version featured here does not include a specific date, a manuscript copy in the handwriting of William E. McLellin dates the revelation to 16 April 1830.1 When John Whitmer copied the revelation into Revelation Book 1, he likely wrote the heading found there: “A Revelation given to Joseph the Seer Some were anxious to Join the Church without Rebaptism & Joseph enquired of the Lord & he received as follows.”2
Although several passages in the Book of Mormon emphasized the necessity of baptism by proper authority,3 no revelation prior to 16 April 1830 explicitly addressed the question of rebaptism for those who had been baptized in other faiths. Oliver Cowdery’s June 1829 “Articles of the Church of Christ” prescribed the method of baptism and the wording of the baptismal prayer, declaring that “whosoever repenteth & humbleth himself before me & desireth to be baptized in my name shall ye baptize them,” but it did not address the question of rebaptism.4 The revelatory document on church government known as “Articles and Covenants,” which superseded Cowdery’s earlier document, clarified that baptism was necessary for entry into the church but did not explicitly address rebaptism either.5
The version of the 16 April revelation featured here was published in the Painesville Telegraph and reportedly obtained from Martin Harris. The newspaper appended the revelation to its publication of Articles and Covenants, as though it were part of that text.6 Sidney Gilbert’s early revelation notebook also appended the 16 April revelation to the end of Articles and Covenants, again without a separate heading or title. The first version of Articles and Covenants published in a church newspaper, in June 1832, likewise combined the two documents.7 The combining of these two texts in so many early versions suggests that the 16 April revelation was seen as an extension of the instructions on baptism contained in Articles and Covenants. The 16 April revelation is presented separately herein because the official version, found in Revelation Book 1, records it as a discrete text.
Despite the clarity this revelation may have provided church members, the requirement of rebaptism became a point of contention for many outside the church. Opponents criticized followers of JS for teaching “that their book contained a new covenant, to come under which the disciple must be re-immersed,” and when Thomas Campbell, father of Disciples of Christ founder Alexander Campbell, set forth his objections to JS’s teachings, he argued that “re-baptizing believers is making void the ordinance of Christ.”8
9A commandment unto the church of Christ which was established in these last days A. D. 1830, on the 4th month and the 6th day of the month, which is called April:—10 Behold I say unto you that all old covenants have I caused to be done away in this thing, and this is a new and everlasting covenant;11 wherefore, although a man should be baptized a hundred times it availeth him nothing, for ye cannot enter in at the straight gait by the law of Moses, neither by your dead works, for it is because of your dead works that I have caused this last covenant and this church to be built up unto me;12 wherefore enter ye in at the gate as I have commanded, and seek not to counsel your God.13